Theoretical & Applied Karstology

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Theoretical and Applied Karstology, vol. 16/2003

Contents and Abstracts
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TAK Reviews

Tercafs, R.
Chemical transmission of information through air in the cave environment: a theoretical approach, pp. 5-23.

This study is devoted to a theoretical approach of the chemical transmission of information through air in the cave environment. Four general cases of the diffusion of substances are studied: instantaneous emission in still air, continuous emission in still air, chemical trails and continuous emission in a wind (odor plume). A set of equations for each case is presented in detail and is based on the theory of chemical transmission of information. In the four cases studied, the theoretical approach shows that the formulation is more and more complex in relation with the kind of transmission. The cave environment is particularly suitable for this kind of analysis because it is relatively stable. The relationship with this chemical transmission and some troglobite behavior is also studied when data are available.

TAK Articles

Taboroši, D. & Hirakawa, K. — Microclimate controls of vadose carbonate precipitation: evidence from stalactite morphology. pp. 25-40.

The morphology and petrology of stalactites are generally thought to be determined by the properties of water from which they are precipitated. However, specific microclimatic conditions in which they form can also fundamentally affect the properties of stalactites. This is not so apparent inside the enclosed atmosphere of caves, where the microclimate is all but constant, but is the primary controlling factor in settings characterized by microclimatic variations, notably cave entrances.
We have monitored temperature, humidity and light intensity patterns in two caves on Guam by data loggers and found that the microclimatic regimes dramatically change along transects from cave entrances to cave interiors. The general patterns show distinct daily oscillations in the entrance area, their gradual buffering toward the interior of the cave, and nearly constant conditions at the back. Following microclimatic measurements, we have sampled actively growing stalactites along the same transects and found that they are morphologically highly variable. Their macromorphology, porosity, crystal size and fabric are directly related to each sample’s position in the cave and its local microclimate. Stalactites growing at the dripline are soft, porous, microcrystalline and organic-rich deposits. Entering the twilight zone, as temperature and humidity oscillations stabilize, illumination declines and relative humidity increases, the stalactites become progressively denser and more organized. They form an uninterrupted morphological sequence from calcareous tufa stalactites in the most exposed locations to classic speleothems deeper inside caves. Since particular microfabrics can be related to specific microclimatic parameters, these observations promise to be a useful tool in paleoenvironmental interpretation.

Zaharia, L., Tamas, T., & Suciu-Krausz, E. —Mineralogy of Cave No. 4 from Runcului Hill (Metaliferi Mts., Romania). pp. 41-46.

The Cave No. 4 from Runcului Hill, discovered in 2002, is the largest cave in the Trestia-Bãiþa karst area, a metallogenic region located in the central part of the Metaliferi Mountains (South Eastern Apuseni Mts.), characterized by a complex geological setting. The cave connects with a 13 m long mine gallery with a collapsed entrance, which ends at a hydrothermal vein. Aside from calcite, aragonite and gypsum, an interesting range of minerals was discovered both in the cave and in the mine gallery. These minerals are sulfates (barite, serpierite), sulfides (galena, pyrite), carbonates (cerusite, smithsonite), quartz and goethite. Some silicates such as kaolinite, montmorillonite and muscovite form a consistent clay layer covering the floor and partially the walls of the cave. Some of the minerals studied are hydrothermal in origin, or resulted from the alteration of primary hydrothermal minerals. Of these, cerusite has not been previously reported from a Romanian cave, whereas for serpierite this is the first known occurrence in Romania.

Gracia-Sanchez, J. & Navarro-Gonzales, I. — Study of hydraulics and hydrocarbon-pollution behavior of a karst aquifer in a tropical area: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.  pp. 47-55

The results of a field investigation on hydraulic and hydrocarbon-pollution behavior in an unconfined aquifer are presented.  The study was performed in a site in the peninsula of Yucatan (Mexico), the main characteristics of which are: the presence of karst and the tropical weather (hurricane zone), with substantial variations of the unconfined aquifer level.  Hydrocarbon-layer thickness varies over time.  Water flows very easily in contrast with hydrocarbons which flow very slowly toward monitoring wells. This fact allows us to evaluate the remediation methods already employed, as well as to recommend new strategies.  The aquifer’s upper layer (1.5 m) shows high contents of pollutants, but no drinking water intake was found there. However, 2 km away, where drinking water is extracted at a depth of 40 m, no trace of contaminant was found.

Stoytchev, T., & Spassov, N. — The musk ox in the bison’s shadow of West European Upper Palaeolithic rock art. pp. 57-66.

The musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) is a species occurring very rarely among the thousands of images of bison and other large mammals preserved in the West European late Paleolithic rock art. Not more than three or four images are unambiguously regarded as musk oxen. Our analysis has shown that this number is higher. We reviewed in this paper six of its images from caves — two paintings in black in Chauvet, one in red in Marsoulas and three rock engravings in La Mouthe, Lascaux and Combarelle II in France. The pictograms in La Mouthe and Lascaux, of interest for art history with their mixed points of view, present images of debatable clarity, and those in Combarelles II and Marsoulas have so far been considered as representing bisons. However, the exterior morphology of the depicted animals is clear evidence that the last view is erroneous. From the perspective of palaeoozoology, the images of musk-oxen are interesting because they usually indicate open landscape and dry, cold climate, i.e. glacial extremes during the late Pleistocene.

Gal, E., Dimitrievic, V., & Kessler, E. — Bird remains from the Late Pleistocene deposits of Mališina stijena (Montenegro). pp. 67-75.

The authors present the bird fauna consisting of 21 species, which provided 18 new species to the already known avifauna of Mališina stijena. The faunal composition indicates a mixed, mosaic-like environment in end-Pleistocene climatic conditions. Lacking any certain butchery or cooking traces, the remains do not suggest any particular hunting selectivity, the fossil assemblage being most probably due to different predators that inhabited the rock-shelter more or less simultaneously.

Rapid communication

Moldovan, O., Milota, S., Sarcina, L., Trinkaus, E., Baltean, I., Soficaru, A., & Geza, R. — The oldest modern humans in Europe. pp. 77-81.

Several human bones were discovered in 2002 in a new cave in south-western Romania. 14C datings placed them 35,000 years ago, as the oldest remains of modern humans in Europe. Anthropological studies revealed modern and unique archaic features of these inhabitants which are described together with their regional archaeological and anthropological context.

Short Notes

Onac, B. — Checklist of the Romanian cave minerals.  pp. 83-89.

The present note provides an updated list of Romanian cave minerals. A recent survey of the mineralogical literature reveals 104 mineral species identified in various secondary cave deposits. 35 of these minerals are either ore-related or bat guano-derived, being rather uncommon cave minerals. Many occurrences bearing rare and very rare cave minerals, such as berlinite, glaukosphaerite, koniaite, leonite, meta-aluminite, paratacamite, phosphammite, sampleite, syngenite, tinsleyite, etc. were reported within the last three years.

Diaconu, G., Dumitras, D., & Marincea, S. — Mineralogical analyses in the cave “Pestera de la Podul Natural” (Mehedinti Plateau, Romania). pp. 91-97.

Samples collected from the “Dry Pasage” of the cave “Pestera de la Podul Natural” (Mehedinti Plateau, Romania), which was affected by guano deposits, were analysed by means of X-ray diffractometry. The results of this first mineralogical investigation of this famous cave showed an association consisting of calcite, brushite and hydroxylapatite.

Petculescu, A.
— New data on the evolution of the Arvicola (Mammalia, Rodentia) from the karst of Romania.  pp. 99-103.

The results of morfometric analyses concerning the
Mimomys/Arvicola phyletic transitions in Romania are presented. Studied materials come from eight fossil sites located in Central Dobrogea, Oltenia, and Transylvania. The enamel band measurements provide the SDQ ratio. This ratio is used to reconstruct the evolution from the archaic disposition of the enamel bands (Mimomys intermedius) to the modern structure (Arvicola terrestris). This result can be seen as a “biological clock” that may be useful in chronologic correlations between different fossil sites.

Book Reviews

Horoi, V.
- Réseau Félix Trombe – Henne Morte, Massif d’Arbas – Pyrénées Centrales. pp. 105-106.
Bleahu, M. - Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science. pp. 106-107